Life in Lockdown

HAPP hosted walks

Students at HAPP have the opportunity to join members of staff and explore Belfast in informative and fun walks during the Spring and Summer. Walks have included the Ormeau Park with Dr Elodie Fabre, Stormont with Dr Jamie Pow, bird watching in botanic with Dr Sparky Booker, and several other places and regions in the city with Prof Dominic Bryan. Check below some pictures taken by students and their comments about some of the lastest walks:

Politics and Public Space’ (6th May 2021)

Prof Dominic Bryan – Professor in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology
 Photo by Jemina Välilä (1)

Very entertaining and informative! Dom went out of his way to make everyone in the group feel included and comfortable

Photo by Jemina Välilä (2)

Meeting new people, getting to explore the city, learning more about Belfast and its history and culture

Photo by Jemina Välilä (3)

Dom is great – obviously super knowledgeable and personable, makes the walks very fun, interesting, and useful.


‘Exploring the Lower Falls and Shankill’ (10th May 2021)

Prof Dominic Bryan – Professor in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology
Photo by Martin Duffy (1)

Unique opportunity to have an expert view of a ‘topography of trama’. Prof Bryan’s suggestion that he may offer further walks is most welcome

Martin Duffy
Photo by Martin Duffy (2)

I explored and learnt the history of an area that I had previously only driven through. I really enjoyed the walk.

Photo by Martin Duffy (3)

Professor Bryan was a great host and knew so many small details about the neighborhoods we saw.


‘Exploring West Belfast’ (9th June 2021)

Prof Dominic Bryan – Professor in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology
Photo by Barry Shepherd (1)

Knowledgeable tour guide. Very engaging

Barry Shepherd
Photo by Barry Shepherd (2)

Getting to know the history of Belfast and socialise with others from HAPP that I haven’t met yet…


‘Bird watching and the medieval mind’ *Botanic Gardens (17th May 2021)

Dr. Sparky Booker – Lecturer in Medieval Irish History
Photo by Martin Fishback (1)

Getting outside and talking to someone knowledgeable about a topic not necessarily school related…

Martin Fishback
Photo by Martin Fishback (2)

Being outside, able to talk live with other people, seeing a part of Belfast you might not have seen…


Life in Lockdown

Immigrants and Coronavirus

In her recent podcast Immigrants and Coronavirus, anthropologist Dr Maruska Svasek explores the impact of the pandemic on the lives of various migrant women in Ireland:

Life in Lockdown

Lost to Oneself

Gemma McHugh – QUB School of Law professional staff

You blink to find the staring eyes of someone lost staring back at you.

Change came and shook your foundations.

Apathy is now saturated in your every pore.

Grasping for anything which will ignite flames within.

Finding joy in the stories of others, for your tale would fail to excite.

What happened, what to do, what to think?

Yet happiness is not a stranger and hope of what tomorrow brings still prevails.

Waiting, hoping for something.

What, you do not know.

Perhaps the stain of a lost year has imprinted too deeply

Belfast Community Life in Lockdown

Book Fairies – Hold Still – 7th May 2021

I am joining The Book Fairies and hiding a copy of the beautiful book Hold Still, published by the National Portrait Gallery! One of my photographs is featured in the collection! The Book Fairies and contributors to the collection are leaving books at places that gave them hope during the lockdown. Whoever finds a copy will discover beautiful images from all around the UK, which reflect the experience of lockdown across many communities. 

About the book:

Spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of the National Portrait Gallery, Hold Still was an ambitious community project to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during the lockdown. People of all ages were invited to submit a photographic portrait, taken in a six-week period during May and June 2020, focusing on three core themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts of Kindness. From these, a panel of judges selected 100 portraits, assessing the images on the emotions and experiences they conveyed.

Featured here in this publication, the final 100 images present a unique and highly personal record of this extraordinary period in our history of people of all ages from across the nation. From virtual birthday parties, handmade rainbows, and community clapping to brave NHS staff, resilient keyworkers, and people dealing with illness, isolation, and loss. The images convey humour and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope – expressing and exploring both our shared and individual experiences. Presenting a true portrait of our nation in 2020, this publication includes a foreword by The Duchess of Cambridge, each image is accompanied by the story behind the picture told through the words of the entrants, and further works show the nationwide outdoor exhibition of Hold Still.

 #ibelieveinbookfairies #HSBookFairies #HoldStill

 — Tags to add for social media:

 Hashtags across all social: #HSBookFairies #ibelieveInbookfairies #HoldStill2020

 Insta: @NationalPortraitGallery @bookfairiesworldwide @bookfairies_uk @dukeandduchessofcambridge @TheRoyalFamily

 Twitter: @NPGLondon @the_bookfairies @KensingtonRoyal @RoyalFamily

 Facebook: @bookfairiesworldwide @theroyalfamily 

Life in Lockdown

Lockdown Baking Competition

We are delighted to announce the winners of our Staff and Student April baking competition. Take a look at the winners and honourable mentions below and the mouth-watering photos of their creations!


Cake Category Winners
Luke Elliot – Joint Winner
Anna Nelson – Joint Winner
Cake Category Honorable Mentions
Mylie Brennan
Jennifer Roets
Buns and Bread Category Winner
Jennifer Roets
Buns and Bread Honorable Mentions
“Nailed it” Category Winner
Marcus Matthews: “My attempt at raspberry buttercream….Who doesn’t like lumps in their icing?”
“Nailed it” Category Honorable Mentions
Marie McGarvey: “one of my pancake, after 6 attempts on Pancake Tuesday I was only able to make a tiny pancake that came out well, hence the size and the tin of cream for comparison”


Cake Category Winner
Viviane Gravey
Cake Category Honorable Mentions
Buns and Bread Category Winner
Susan Templeton (Assisted by Step Granddaughter)
Buns and Bread Category Honorable Mentions
“Nailed it” Category Winner
“Nailed it” Category Honorable Mention
Viviane Gravey
Life in Lockdown

Lockdown inside lockdown

By Gloria Adaeze Adichie, MA Conflict Transformation & Social Justice

For the first time in my life, I travelled out of my country, Nigeria, to a foreign land and lo! It was in the middle of a lockdown. I was excited about the travel, but I felt empty after travelling. This emptiness may be a normal feeling for most people, but this normality is not the same in a pandemic. Well, I could not ascertain the usual feelings that come with travelling for the first time because I had never travelled until the lockdown. 

And here in Belfast, I am; at first I felt that no one could hear me even when I breathe. Soon, I discovered it was a battle of the ‘self’. This battle made me ask my inner self: Who am I? Have you gone, or are you still there? Or rather, what is remaining of me? I was shut down to my ‘self’ that I hardly recognised myself – The lockdown of the ‘self’ is what I call ‘lockdown inside lockdown’. 

The lockdown has made us strangers that know each other. I knew myself, but I felt like a stranger within my ‘self’. An African proverb once says that when a handshake moves beyond the elbow, it is no longer a handshake; it has turned into something else. I guess our handshake with life has moved beyond the elbow, and we have felt and perceived the different shapes of life and are thrown into the field of struggle. This perception hunts the ‘self’ more than the ‘non-self’. 

A number of questions came to my mind. Which could be better – consciousness of the ‘self’ now or keeping the ‘self’ asleep? Will the latter reduce the struggle within? At a point, I realised that the ‘self’ needs to be awake not just to keep me moving but to give me reasons for moving. I am sure some people have been in this position or are in this position or maybe in this position in the future – know this – you are not alone – fear not the languages of the ‘self’, speak in the language you understand, the ‘self’ understands it. 

The ‘self’ may be real to some and unreal to others. But one thing may be clear – the ‘self’ is a substance that keeps us moving. It may not be the breath of life, but it is the breath that sustains us during our struggles. So, it does not just make you conscious and reflective of the world around you; it fights for you.

We all wonder what a post-pandemic universe would look like less than we wonder what a post-pandemic ‘self’ would look like. 

Could we for one minute, at least, converse with the ‘self’ and give it a ‘voice’. 

Could we at least tap the ‘self’ to keep it alive?

So that we would not say, after the pandemic, we lost ourselves. 

Lockdown is so subtle; if we are not careful, we may lose ‘our voices’. 

Lockdown is a chance; if we can, we could regain ‘our voices’. 

Learning and Researching at QuB Life in Lockdown

A re-imaginated festival of ideas and politics

This year’s Imagine! Festival of Ideas and Politics went online. You can catch up on some of the events organised by academics in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics below.

Post-Brexit Northern Ireland: Living with the Protocol with Professor Katy Hayward and Professor David Phinnemore.

The Truth in the News? Trade Wars and Editorial Cartoons with Dr Barry Sheppard.

Deliberative Mini-Publics and the Political Imagination with Professor John Garry and Dr Jamie Pow.

Analysis of Impact / Covid-19 History Life in Lockdown

Protest mobilities? Tourism, demonstration, and civil conflict

By Jamie Nugent, PhD Candidate in History

In the aftermath of the Bristol protests against the Conservative government’s new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees pinned the blame for the violence on what he called “revolutionary tourists” or “protest tourists” who had come in from the outside itching for a fight. Regardless of the truth of his claims, it is interesting to note how common this claim has become in an era of global mobilities and ever-more global protests. It has more of a whiff of the claim of “outside agitation” used since the 19th century to contrast ‘respectable’ locals with ‘troublesome’ outsiders. It also shows a shifting landscape in the meaning of protest itself – especially as authoritarian governments and even democratic states clamp down on street-based forms of expression as well as freedom of speech online.

In 2019 the blogger and Experiences Ambassador for AirBnB, Sebastian Nieto Milevcic, explored the concept of “Protest Tourism” in the context of the Chilean ‘Estallido Social’ (Social Outbreak) which erupted in response to corruption, privatisation, and widespread inequality in the South American nation. Milevcic noticed that the protestors were accompanied by a number of “mere observers, blog enthusiasts, and selfie explorers,” including Americans and Europeans who stood out from the crowd. He asked them why they were there, and they gave several responses:

“I wanted to see something real.”

”I just want to tell my friends I was here.”

“I was just too curious to watch what was going to happen.”

Milevcic mused as to whether this was ‘Dark Tourism’, which draws millions to Chernobyl, Fukushima and Ground Zero in Manhattan, as well as genocide sites such as Rwanda and Cambodia’s Killing Fields. He concludes “maybe it’s just Travel itself that is innately voyeuristic?” Although Milevcic’s observers were just that, observers, the distinction can often be blurred in a digital age where the camera and microphone can be effective weapons – both for and against injustice. As for voyeurism, Nick Cohen in The Guardian castigated “Radical tourists” who “trawl the world for revolutions to praise” as “no better than sex tourists” in search of exotic thrills they cannot get at home. 

“Pleasures sated, the tourists fly away from the poverty and the corruption. The lies they have lived and paid others to live on their behalf don’t bother them,” Cohen wrote. He was referring specifically to supporters of the regime in Venezuela, whose own economic mismanagement and political crisis has led to a mobility crisis of a different kind, with over four million estimated to have left the country since 1999.

Though it might be called ‘voyeurism’, the practice of ‘outside interference’ in domestic or local disputes has a long history loosely connected to espionage or power politics. Take for example the poet Lord Byron, who went voluntarily to fight in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire; or the scores of British (and Irish) volunteers who fought against Franco’s Falangists during the Spanish Civil War, not least George Orwell and the trade unionist Hans Beimler. Or with non-violent protests, take the example of Viola Liuzzo and James Reeb, white Americans who travelled from their homes in California and Kansas, respectively, in order to attend the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery (dramatised in the 2014 film Selma). Both Liuzzo and Reeb lost their lives during the marches. 

Mobile protestors can often be the tool of, or victims of, international events and political manoeuvres. Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior, a commercial trawler which travelled around the world protesting against whaling, seal-hunting and nuclear tests, was infamously sunk by French agents near New Zealand as it was setting out to protest nuclear testing in French Polynesia. Just before the Soviet Union invaded and occupied the Baltic States in 1939, demonstrators appeared in major cities on 18 July calling for incorporation into the Soviet Union, and under the threat of Soviet invasion, this call was swiftly followed by the national parliaments of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia applying for membership and being annexed. A similar tactic is suspected in the eastern part of the Ukraine which has seceded – so-called “protest tourists” from Russia are often seen at rallies in Donetsk.

Such actors, whether in military conflicts or political issues, often receive short shrift from the powers-that-be. Alan Shatter, Irish Minister for Justice in 2011 accused members of the anti-gas group ‘Sea to Shell’ of being “self indulgent protest tourists,” much like Mayor Marvin Rees has accused the Bristol rioters. With the ever-increasing concerns to contain COVID-19, and public demonstrations in the firing line of public health restrictions on travel and assembly, it is impossible to say what impact the pandemic will have on “protest mobilities,” as I coin it. 

Research suggests that there was “no evidence” of a spike in infections after the Black Lives Matter Protests in the US last summer. But YouGov polling suggests that the UK public emphatically support almost every public control measure (such as water cannon, tear gas and plastic bullets) except live ammunition. In a world of new, uncertain threats and an ongoing crisis of legitimacy in democratic nations, it can be expected that clampdowns on mobility (as seen during the pandemic) and public demonstrations (as seen with the new Bill) will be pursued by governments unable to admit that the situation is far from under control.

HAPP pets Life in Lockdown

Interfering pets: Meet Darcy

By Tom Marshall, PhD Candidate in Anthropology

If Ivan Pavlov was conducting his Pavlov’s dog experiment today, he could use my doggie, Darcy, when virtual meetings begin. When virtual meetings start with the participants initial, “hello, how are you?” Darcy takes her cue to bark or growl. It is her way of saying “hello” or “who’s here to play with me?” Darcy is then on a quest to search for these ‘intruders’ in her home. My lap is then selfishly used as a human vantage point.

As you can see from the screenshot below, I have to struggle to be seen on screen by the meeting participants. Maruška, my supervisor, anticipates, even expects Darcy’s bark at the start of our virtual supervision meetings. In fact, Darcy’s presence at regular meetings is often anticipated. However, when I am on a virtual call with people we haven’t met before, Darcy’s need for attention requires some explanation. Thankfully, Darcy’s interfering adds an initial talking point, breaking the ice before any official business begins. So, rather than interfering, Darcy brings moments of surprise and joy during zoom gloom and our pandemic lethargy.

Who’s there? Darcy Zoom-bombing. Photo by the author.

Anthropology Learning and Researching at QuB Life in Lockdown

I am sad because the wind destroyed my flowers: A Kathakali Workshop

By Tom Marshall, PhD Candidate in Anthropology

Kathakali is a Hindu temple acting tradition, originating in Kerala, South India. The repertoire of Kathakali are the stories from sacred texts such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana. I was first mesmerised by Kathakali when I saw a performance in 1995, lasting a few hours. I understood then from the pre-performance talk that the actors told stories through the movement of their bodies including complex face often frenetic eye movements. It takes years to hone Kathakali skills. When the HAPP Experience Team organised a one-hour Kathakali workshop in February 2021, I had to take part.

Students and lecturers joined our workshop tutors, Kalamnadalam Vijayakumar (Vijay) and Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar (Barbara) via a zoom link to their studio – a performance room with no embellishments, simple grey fabric lined the walls. Vijay was not dressed like the performer in Image 1 or Vijay himself in Image 2 below. Barbara explained that “when an actor is in full costume they are no longer human but a representation of divinity. For that reason an actor cannot give a workshop or demonstration in costume. The spoken word is considered the language of humans and the Mudras [Kathakali sign language] are the language of the gods. The journey from dressing room to the stage is considered sacred as if the actor is travelling from heaven to earth during this time the actor must not be spoken to” (pers. comm.). Dressing in a full Kathakali costume and make-up takes hours of preparation.  Kathakali make up varies greatly depending on the character being performed (Images 1 and 2). The application of Kathakali make up skills takes years to master and Image 2 showcases just one instance of Barbara’s mastery. 

Image 1: Kathakali Performer, Kerala, 1995. Photo by the author.

Vijay and Barbara introduced us to Kathakali, providing a brief history of the sacred art form before we had the opportunity to learn a short performance from the master, Vijay. He explained that each word in a story has its own Mudra, Kathakali sign-language. However, unlike the sign-language that we may be familiar with to a greater or lesser extent, Kathakali signing is elaborate.  Arms, legs, cheeks and jowls, eyebrows and of course the eyes convey a story’s words.  During the workshop, Barbara disappeared off screen and gave us useful explanations about the movements made by Vijay throughout the session. After a short demonstration by Vijay, for example, she asked if he had acted as male or female character. We were further introduced to feminine and masculine variations in Kathakali as the actors need to embody female and male movements with clarity.  Traditionally, only males perform Kathakali, although some women have started to perform in India. Barbara is the first female Kathakali make-up [Chutti] artist.

Image 2: Vijay in full Kathakali Costume. Photo courtesy of Mark Bennett.

During the one-hour workshop, we were taught to perform the phrase I am sad because the wind destroyed my flowers. Hand, arm, leg and face gestures ranged from the delicate opening of the flower to the flailing arms representing gusts of wind. The accompanying rapid eye movements where, as Vijay demonstrated, seemingly impossible for us beginners. His eyeball dexterity demonstrated his many years of training and performing. On explanation, some of the movements, such as ‘flower’ were self-explanatory. Conversely, the simple word ‘because’ involved intricate hand movements which at first was difficult to perform. Nevertheless, I think we arrived at an amateur compromise. 

During the Q&A session after the workshop, Vijay and Barbara commented on the various ways in which they have adapted workshops, performances and costume displays to different contexts and settings across the UK. From 2010 onwards, they have also worked with Maruška Svašek, Reader in Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast, on several of their Heritage Lottery funded projects (see Svašek 2016, especially page 9-13). 

After seeing Kathakali performed in India, I thought that one-hour would be insufficient to learn anything more than one or two performative elements.  However, Vijay is an expert performer and teacher.  He carefully and slowly demonstrated each movement.  We followed, repeated and repeated again.  As we moved from one movement to another, I worried that I would forget them.  However, Vijaya’s teaching expertise ensured that the movements were understood – the physical movements and their meaning.  While I did not perform to Vijay’s standard, I thought I was not too bad.  

The Kathakali workshop was a welcome distraction from the usual words on my computer screen and the digital pile of papers to read.  It was an hour of creative movement that differed to my allocated daily exercise around the now too familiar local spaces.  The workshop flexed my mind as I reminisced about seeing Kathakali performed in India – a creative distraction to my academic and lockdown routine.  Hopefully, soon, we will meet and engage with Kalamandalam Vijayakumar and Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar in person. On their website Vijay enacts all the words used in the Kathakali acting tradition, and the video was filmed, edited and scripted by Barbara who also produced the voice over. The product of their combined forces is an impressive achievement.


Svašek, Maruška 2016. Introduction. Creativity and Innovation in a World of Movement. In: Meyer, B. and Svašek, M. (eds). Creativity in Transition. Politics and Aesthetics of Cultural Production across the Globe. Oxford: Berghahn, Pp 1-32. Freely accessible at: